FRV leader named as one of four Victorian finalists for Australian of the Year

Thursday, 2 November 2023 at 12:42 am
ACFO Michael Tisbury

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) congratulates Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Michael Tisbury AFSM on his nomination as one of four Victorian finalists for Australian of the Year. 

ACFO Tisbury has been nominated for his global efforts to protect firefighters from harmful per-fluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and ground-breaking work in Victoria.

A sought-after, global expert on PFAS remediation, ACFO Tisbury has advocated at the United Nations for an international ban on the use of PFAS in firefighting.

His advocacy led to the removal of exemptions on the use of certain PFAS chemicals under the United Nations Stockholm Convention. This effectively banned the use of certain PFAS substances in firefighting for countries that are signatories to the convention. 

In Victoria, ACFO Tisbury has led a world-first clinical trial which found a solution to the decades-long problem of how to reduce PFAS levels in human blood. 

The study found “both blood and plasma donation resulted in significantly lower PFAS chemicals than the control group, and these differences were maintained three months later. Plasma donation was most effective, resulting in a roughly 30% decrease in average blood serum PFAS concentrations over the 12-month trial period.”

ACFO Tisbury has been pivotal in FRV’s work to remediate fire stations and equipment that have been contaminated by historical use of PFAS, including a project to remediate FRV’s Corio fire station which brought PFAS concentration in surface and water runoff at the station to levels well below the ecological screening criteria. 

ACFO Tisbury also led a project to rid all FRV appliances and equipment of historical PFAS contamination, which was completed in 2022, and resulted in two-thirds of FRV’s equipment having PFAS levels that meet the criteria for safe drinking water.   

Fire Rescue Commissioner Gavin Freeman AFSM said ACFO Tisbury’s efforts were outstanding and had led to safer conditions for firefighters globally. 

“ACFO Tisbury has left no stone unturned in his work to rid firefighting of harmful PFAS contamination and should be commended for his exceptional work, which has undoubtedly reduced the risks that firefighters face in their line of work,” Commissioner Freeman said. 

"Whilst I am both honoured and extremely proud to be nominated for this prestigious award, I accept the nomination on behalf of all professional firefighters who forgo both quality and quantity of life, to do all we can to help those in the community when they're at their most vulnerable," ACFO Tisbury said. 

FRV acknowledges and thanks the United Firefighters Union for its significant support for PFAS remediation programs and ongoing advocacy on this issue. 

Victoria will name a single finalist for Australian of the Year in a ceremony on 14 November. 

The Australian of the Year will be announced on Australia Day.